Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Image of eye with Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
  • Sudden elevation of intraocular pressure when iris blocks trabecular meshwork (eye's drainage channel)
  • At risk are middle-aged or elderly patients with hyperopia, anatomically small anterior chambers, cataracts, or abnormal iris structure
  • Most episodes of angle closure occur spontaneously; very few episodes are precipitated by topical pupil-dilating parasympatholytic agents, and almost none by orally administered parasympatholytic agents—despite drug insert warnings
  • Prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical because high intraocular pressure can damage optic nerve function irreversibly
  • Periocular pain, photophobia, and blurred vision
  • Dilated conjunctival vessels, especially at corneal edge ("ciliary flush")
  • Hazy cornea
  • Pupil does not constrict to direct light
  • Intraocular pressure very elevated (above 40 mm Hg)
  • Refer patient emergently to ophthalmologist or emergency room if you suspect acute angle-closure glaucoma
  • Treatment by ophthalmologist includes administering topical, oral, or intravenous agents to lower intraocular pressure and performing laser or surgical iridotomy
  • These measures usually successful in lowering intraocular pressure; if not, filtering surgery necessary
  • Vision will be preserved if intraocular pressure has not been too high for too long